Food waste energy plant opens in North East

February 4, 2014 at 12:36 pm

An £8 million plant opened in County Durham is to turn food waste to energy.

County Durham has opened the doors to the first commercial food waste anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in the north east of England. The plant is said to be able to power around 2000 homes/small businesses every year using commercial food waste from all types of organisations, including schools, retailers, and food packaging companies.

The plant is a huge leap forward with the operating company, Emerald Biogas, confident that the plant will bring about change in food waste disposal in the north east of England. The plant is said to be a step towards eradicating food waste in landfills, as well as providing a reliable and valuable source of green energy and bio-fertiliser. The project was funded in the main by the Rural Development Programme for England, which in turn is funded by both Defra and the EU. HSBC also provided a significant investment.

Director of Emerald Biogas, Adam Warren, was keen to mention in his speech at the opening ceremony that the north east has been struggling to deal with the large amount of food waste dumped in landfill sites every year: around 800,000 tonnes. As a company, Emerald Biogas has taken the time to provide a solution that is both dynamic and practical. Warren stressed that the plant will not only provide a sustainable solution for disposing of food wastage, it will also provide a renewable and cost-effective energy source for local businesses.

Moreover, the bio-fertiliser produced as a secondary bonus from the food waste will be distributed to local agricultural organisations and independent farmers. This bio-fertiliser will help to establish a stronger agricultural community in the north east by re-enriching the soil with the nutrients it has lost from years of industry.

Not only will the plant function as a solution to food waste, it will also serve as a centre of learning. A campaign has been launched which will facilitate visits to the plant to encourage young people to understand the processes of recycling, as well as the importance of leading a greener life.

Waste Minister, Dan Rogerson, speaks openly about the extra benefits that new waste disposal techniques bring about: “Dealing with waste properly not only benefits the environment but will also help create jobs and build a stronger economy.” With the current job slump and damaged economy in the north east, this mass creation of jobs will help ease the stark figures of unemployment.

With such large investors supporting the plant, it seems this innovative step is set to make a huge impact on the north east. HSBC finished off the launch evening by praising the staff and looking forward to the plant’s development in the future.

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